Which brands celebrate the LGBTQ+ beyond June, if any?

Industry execs give their honest takes on work representing the LGBTQ+ community today.

A lot of brands jump on the rainbow bandwagon for the month of June. Now as many champion the LGBTQ+ community at other times throughout the year.

Campaign US decided to ask some adland professionals (who are members of the LGBTQ community or allies) which pieces of work they’ve seen this year so far  - if any - that they believe does a strong job of empowering and celebrating the cohort.

Some of the execs we asked had examples in mind; others couldn’t even think of one, demonstrating that there’s obviously still an inclusivity and representation problem in the industry.

See the responses we gathered below.

Krystle Mullins, Creative Director, RPA

Okay – so here’s the deal.

I have been sitting here trying to think of a piece of work that came out prior to June, that has stayed with me or has affected me as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. (And yes, RPA did some amazing work for the Los Angeles LGBT Center, but I know we are supposed to keep it outside our own agency).

But, here’s the situation…, I, honestly, can’t think of one.

I know I might not be the most schooled person in terms of what’s being launched when, but I keep my ear pretty close to the ground when it comes to new work by great brands in North America and Canada, and I can’t.think.of.one.

Nothing. Natta. Zip.

So then I started asking my LGBTQ+ friends if they could remember something, and they couldn’t think of anything either.

Representation. It’s really not that hard. But we really don’t actually have very much of it – except for this month of course. Which your entire piece (I think is going to highlight).

That’s pretty sad. And indicates an industry need.

Anthony Mariello, Group Strategy Director, The Community

The hard truth is – I can’t think of many because it doesn’t happen a lot outside of June. We’re in a weird time right now. More and more brands are tapping into Pride, celebrating it, merchandising it with empowering messages. But at the same time, skepticism is rising with the LGBTQ+ audience. We’re questioning and really asking brands: do you support us? Or are you just doing it when it’s convenient for you? Or even worse – to make a profit. You have to stay consistent with your message, and if you support the LGBTQ+ community, then build creative and campaigns that reflects our reality, all year round, not just during Pride.

Shoon Browne, Director of UX, F&B NY

Gillette's First Shave, The Story of Samson commercial is a powerful self-inquiry piece on the company's own slogan, "The best a man can get." The ad features a transgender man being coached through his first shave by his Dad. The ad ends with the powerful statement on the cultural shift of tolerance for the LGBTQ+ community: "It's not just myself transition but everybody around me transitioning."

Barry Lowenthal, CEO of The Media Kitchen

I thought the Walmart Ad 'Love Is in the Aisle - Patrick + Andy' released in February was very cute, especially coming from Walmart. But I think the runaway 'ad' has to be the entire season of Pose. There was nothing like it ever before on TV and it shaped a national conversation around transgender rights as well as reintroduced a whole new generation (probably two generations) to the famous and inspiring Balls.

Joseph Anthony, CEO of Hero Group

Here's to Harry's! It's really easy for a brand to throw a rainbow on its logo during the month of June and call it "Pride" and fail to represent the LGBTQ community for the other 11 months of the year. Though many companies indulge in the rainbow explosion in June, few fully understand and support the LGBTQ community for real.

Harry's Shaving Company is a brand that deserves to be celebrated for its "Shave or Don't" campaign. Released in April 2019, the ad showcases the many different reasons men shave and features men from all backgrounds and walks of life. In one scene, a trans man of color sits on his tub in front of a mirror, his scars from his top surgery clearly visible. As he gets ready to shave, the voiceover says: "Shave to feel like you". This campaign resonated with the LGBTQ community because of the representation and normalization of marginalized LGBTQ members. The ad wasn't about putting a spotlight on a transgender male, it was about representing the spectrum of people who use their products in an enlightening way. The LGBTQ community can feel that Harry's truly understands and supports them.

When a brand consistently believes in a cause, it is authentic and genuine - and that's what the LBGTQ community is not seeing in other brands with the generic rainbow logos.

Rana Reeves, Founder of RanaVerse

I'm actually a member of the LGBTQ+ community 365 days a year and for every 24 hours of those days. Across the year what I look for from brands is fair representation, which is all too often lacking. Not every person in the community is a drag queen or a statuesque muscly gay man that we so often see in Pride advertising. We are just queer peoples trying to get on with life in a culture that on the whole doesn't see us as normal. Brands have huge roles to play in showing LGBTQ+ peoples in the context of everyday lives.

I love this work by the Times of India called Out & Proud. It reminds me of the barriers that so many in my community face on a daily basis and it reminds me that in many countries it is still a brave act to run ads in support of LGBTQ+ communities. I love the relatability and accessibility of the casting and I love that it has been created by the most venerable of media brands in India which in itself gives stature and takes it to the heart of people’s homes.

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